Efforts continue to help couple

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2007

I appreciated Jessica Cejnar's article, "Difficult decisions" (Clarion, July 24), about my son, Joe Romig, and his wife, Samantha, who are trying to live a normal life with Down's Syndrome.

Caring teachers, counselors and coaches in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District encouraged Joe and Samantha to be as independent as possible and to be a credit to their community. And they have been, with help from family and funding through Frontier Community Services Inc. for caretaker supervision.

Samantha's mother, Doneva Baker, and I pay their rent and grocery bills. They earn their spending money from their jobs. We relied on Frontier funding to provide for their supervision and transportation to and from their jobs.

Since Doneva and I learned in the June 29 meeting with Frontier Executive Director Ken Duff and Case Manager Mike Shattler that funding for Joe and Samantha's supervisory care would be cut in a few days, we have been in a state of emergency. Although they are high functioning for their disability, I worry about their safety, since they are spending so many hours in their apartment on their own now.

When Joe works nights, Samantha is alone. Because I live in Cooper Landing and Doneva lives 25 miles away from Joe and Samantha's apartment with two of her children, we cannot be with them as much as we would like. Their fathers are dead. If they lived with me, they would soon lose their sense of independence. I don't know of any jobs for them in the Cooper Landing area. The stimulus and incentive they receive now from their daily contacts would be greatly diminished.

Having caretakers supervising time at home was set up for Joe years before he and Samantha were married and continued, although hours were cut over the years. Having this help from outside the family makes so much difference in their quality of life. I understand, from Jessica Cejnar's article, that, unfortunately, the state grant money for Frontier Community Services has been cut by one-third. I am researching information regarding state and federal waivers and state grant funding.

Doneva and I continue to work with Frontier Community Services Inc. and others, in an effort to negotiate a compromise.

Jean A. Romig

Cooper Landing



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